Upcoming Interview: Buying American


If you read the post below and the article from PC Magazine, you might have seen this quote:

“The thing with computers and electronics is that people have the feeling that it's basically impossible to buy things that were made here,” said Roger Simmermaker, author of How Americans Can Buy American. “You cannot buy a DVD, a cordless phone, or an alarm clock radio that is made in America.”

I have his book on order and have been in contact with Roger (his website is here). Roger has agreed to an email interview, which I will post here on the blog.

If you have any questions for him, please email them to me using the link in the left-hand column.

Personally, I'm a bit torn on the topic. I'm not in favor of propping up failing American companies and buying their products ONLY because they are an American company. But, it is nice to promote American companies and to make the choice to buy American when you can. I want to see American companies do well, but without giving them “charity” business or government handouts.

GM is producing much better vehicles today because of the competition from Toyota and the others. Had we closed our markets, we'd all be driving very crappy cars. The best way for GM to succeed in the long run is through responding to competition (and unfortunately, they're not doing a great job on that front).

What do you think? Click on comments. I think we can have some very interesting discussions on this topic, as manufacturing people and as consumers. Also, I know there are many blog readers from other countries. I invite you to chime in. Although I blog as an American, I don't want to exclude the perspectives of others. Are there “Buy French” campaigns in France?

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Mark Graban
Mark Graban is an internationally-recognized consultant, author, and professional speaker, and podcaster with experience in healthcare, manufacturing, and startups. Mark's new book is The Mistakes That Make Us: Cultivating a Culture of Learning and Innovation. He is also the author of Measures of Success: React Less, Lead Better, Improve More, the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, and the anthology Practicing Lean. Mark is also a Senior Advisor to the technology company KaiNexus.


  1. My personal philosophy has always been “Buy a product for it’s quality, not it’s country of origin.”

    Automotive wise, I have never wanted to own an American car built after the “muscle car” years (late 60’s, early 70’s). I have always driven and owned Toyota vehicles. Sure you could say I’m biased being that my dad works for Toyota (25 years); but that is not the determining factor. Every Toyota I have owned has lower maintenance cost, better fuel economy, more standardized parts between models, and far more miles driven without problems. My latest Toyota, a 1984 Cressida, had 240,000 miles on it before a $50 head gasket blew. Not bad on a stock engine 20+ years old.

    However, when Ford finally redesigned the Mustang and gave us this fantastic example of a muscle car redesigned with modern day cues, I changed my mind. I did not buy one, but the design and styling was pulled off so well that it really made me consider buying an American car. I have not looked into maintenance costs, fuel economy, etc., but it is surprising how much ones impression can change with a little more planning.

  2. My main question for Roger would be, “Is there a push to get factories in the US to buy from other US suppliers?” There is so much assembly of foreign made parts in US factories, at a very high logistical cost. Many US factories struggle because of the inflexibility and high cost of importing components from Asia, and the cost and poor delivery performance only speed the move to completely outsourcing production. I have worked for companies that insist on buying from the lowest priced supplier, only to have high freight bills and stacks of Expedited parts gathering dust in a warehouse. The factories are work with in Asia have cut most of their leadtimes by 50% and inventory by 50% by partnering with our suppliers and making them better. Most of our purchased and made A items have a one day leadtime with no incoming inspection required.

    Until more US companies work to improve themselves and each other, production will continue to disappear from the US. And that order needs to come from management.

  3. Good point. It seems to me that many of the execs who talk ‘Buy American’ are little more than final assemblers who buy as many of the components as they can from China or Mexico.

    It rings a little hollow to buy from GM in order to ‘Buy American’ when GM’s biggest supplier – Delphi – already has a minimal U.S. presence, and is cutting it further.

    How about if we all agree to buy GM to Buy American when GM launches a Buy American program of their own. It seems a tad hypocritical for an exec to ask me to spend more of my own money out of patriotism, while he is maxing out his personal bonus by outsourcing everything.

  4. Here in Finland we have a collective mark called for products made in Finland. All though you have to be member of Association of Finnish work to be eligble to use it. Membership fees depend on size of organization from 85 to 4110 euros.

    Association it self has been founded in 1912 and has been operation ever since.

    Loose translation from their finnish site:
    “Associations purpose is to work towards direction that when finnish work and finnish products are equal in value and price compared to competitors, they would always get preference all around Finland”

    Association grants it’s members permission to use collective mark as proof that product was made in finland or service was produced in finland. It isn’t automatically granted to members, one has to apply for it.

    It’s a shame that they don’t have english section at their website, but here is the link neverthless. http://www.avainlippu.fi/

  5. Ford is promoting themselves as an American brand, but just announced a $9.something Billion investment in Mexico. Maybe instead of “Made in the U.S.A.” it’s “Made in NAFTA”

  6. Brilliant comments on Ford and asking manufacturers to “Buy American.” I will definitely ask Roger his thoughts on that.

    I think it’s horribly hypocritical of Mark Fields and Ford to wrap themselves in the American flag while also exporting jobs.


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